Andy Gemmell’s Drinks Cabinet
Loch Lomond Distillery Lomond Estate, Alexandria
History: Some readers might be surprised to learn that there is a distillery not far from the banks of Loch Lomond. It one of the most distinctive distilleries I have ever visited but it is definitely not your stereotypical quaint and picturesque Scottish distillery. From the outside you would be forgiven for thinking it is not even a distillery until you see the vast stacks of oak casks lining the road to its entrance. Loch Lomond distillery opened in 1964, with production beginning the following year. After a period of closure at the beginning of the 1980s, Alexander Bulloch and the Glen Catrine company acquired the business and resumed malt production in 1987. Grain whisky production began in 1993 and two new malt stills were added in 1999. In recent years the organisation has held back in making spirits for other companies and put a major focus on rebranding their products and marketing them all over the world, with great success.
The whisky: With most distilleries in Scotland, of which there are more than 100, you will usually find a “house style” which runs through their products, smokey, fruity, floral etc. At Loch Lomond, they don’t adhere to that ethos. This distillery produces a blended range of whiskies, a Loch Lomond single grain, Loch Lomond single malts, Inchmurrin single malts and Inchmoan single malts. Each brand has its own flavour profile and unique production method, thus creating a diverse range of whiskies all coming from one distillery.
Favourite tipple: It is a tough call but if I had to choose, I’d go for Loch Lomond 18-yearold, which is packed with fruity flavours and a hint of smoke, and you can pick it up for around £75.
Why visit? This distillery is not open to the public but anyone used to the postcard image of a distillery, with its old buildings surrounded by luscious green fields, is not going to get this distillery. It is built for production of several different products and doesn’t care that it’s not beautiful but if you are into your whisky then, like me, you will think this is one of the most fascinating and cool distilleries you will ever visit. I’ve been lucky enough to visit here quite a few times and I’ve learned something new every time. If you are a super whisky geek you can always try and blag a private visit with the owners.
Geek alert: At Loch Lomond distillery there are four different types of distillation. Continuous distillation creates high-strength spirits for their blends, a smaller continuous still is used to create the Loch Lomond single grain brand, traditional pot stills are used in the single malt and lastly there are the weird and wonderful straight-neck pot stills sometimes better known as “Lomond stills”.
Interesting fact: Loch Lomond marks the boundary between the Lowlands and the Highlands of Scotland. This area has been at the heart of the whisky industry for centuries. Sadly, though, at least nine distilleries around the loch have been lost over the years, leaving Loch Lomond Distillers to maintain a proud local tradition into the 21st century.